Gracie walked down to the old RV she called home to find Boon hadn’t made it inside before the rain hit. She chuckled when the fat, old cat glared balefully at her. “I see you couldn’t wait until I got home. Witch!”
Gracie ignored him and pulled off her wet sweater. She laid it out on the cracked Naugahyde bench that served as her couch. She patted it dry with a towel while Boon continued to complain.
The cat finally spit at her, “You care more about that ratty sweater than me. I’m coming down with pneumonia here!” The feline coughed pitifully a couple of times to prove his point.
She laughed at him. “You weren’t hand knitted by my favorite aunt,” She sat down beside him and draped the towel over him, “But if you’re jealous of my sweater, then I can dry you off as well.” She scooped him up and ruffled his fur with the towel.
He sputtered and protested, “Hey now, I’m not a house cat! You can’t manhandle me like this!”
Gracie released him. He stepped indignantly away from her only to plop down a foot away to lick his butt.
“Nice,” said Gracie as she walked the ten steps to her bedroom at the back of the RV. “What do you think we should do tomorrow? How are we going to find the plant? It was definitely on that bus today but I doubt it’s there now. Someone walked off with it.”
She pulled off the tank top she wore that day instead of a bra and pulled open the drawer underneath her platform bed. She rummaged around for a dry shirt. She finally found an old tour tee-shirt from a band she’d never heard-a hand-me-down from her mother. It had a few holes in it but at least it was dry and clean.
“I need to find a laundromat soon. People think I dress funny now, wait until I’m down to the dregs of my wardrobe.”
“I wouldn’t say you dress funny,” said an unfamiliar voice from behind her.
“Eep!” Gracie exclaimed as she jumped around, the t-shirt clutched to her bare chest. “Who are you?”
The young man standing on the first step of the RV blushed. “Sorry, obvious I came at a bad time.” He disappeared, shutting the door behind him.
Gracie pulled the shirt over her head and hurried after him. She paused to whisper at Boon before throwing the door open, “You could have warned me.” The cat merely looked at her.
“Wait,” Gracie called out as she stepped outside and into the rain.
Her unexpected visitor was already a hundred feet away, his long legs eating up the ground in a fast walk. Gracie had to run to catch up with him.
“Whoa,” she said as she grabbed his elbow, “What’s your hurry?”
He looked down at her and Gracie realized how tall he was. She wasn’t a short woman, at five foot eight, but he towered over her.
She blinked up at him, raindrops dripping from her eyelashes. “You want to talk to me?” she said.
He mumbled, “We can do this later, when it’s not so wet.” He shook off her hand and turned away.
“Wait,” Gracie said, “you’re the guy who made me miss the bus.”
He stopped in his tracks and turned back toward her, “Yeah, sorry about that. I needed to be on that bus.”
“And I didn’t?” asked Gracie. “Come on back to my place and talk to me. You owe me that, at least.” She smiled winningly, knowing she looked like a downed rat or a deranged lunatic rather than the alluring young woman she wished to be.
The serious young man smiled slightly before following her back to the RV. Gracie felt like she won some sort of battle even though she didn’t know the second thing about the person she just invited into her home other than he had no qualms about opening a stranger’s door.
Before the doubts ate at her, they reached the RV. Gracie invited him in. He stepped through the door with trepidation, having to crouch down to avoid hitting his head on the low roof of the mobile home.
Gracie snatched the sweater off the banquette and invited him to have a seat so he wouldn’t have to navigate around her tiny home. He sank down, relief visible on his face.
Gracie laid the sweater over the half wall dividing the area from the kitchen. She sat down on facing him.
“So, um,” said Gracie unintelligibly, at a loss of what to say to the young man now that he was inside her home.
The young man said, “I’m Welkin, Welkin Hunter. Kin to my friends.”
“Kin,” Gracie rolled the name around in her mouth for a moment, getting used to it. “I’m Gracie Walker. So, Kin, why were you so eager to catch that bus? And why did you walk into my home uninvited?” Gracie decided not to skirt the issues but get straight to the point.
He smiled a shy smile Gracie was beginning to find endearing. “You’re direct. I like that.”
Gracie waited for him to answer her questions, studying her unexpected visitor. He not only was tall but gangly; he hadn’t grown into his height. She estimated he was younger than herself, probably nineteen or twenty. His dark hair was closely cropped on the sides but the center was left long and flopped in his face, hiding most of his features. He wore layers of clothing that seemed excessive in the temperate climate they were in. He had on two t-shirts, a hoodie and a black duster. His black jeans had seen better days as had his heavy black motorcycle boots that looked like they were held together with red duct tape. When he came in, he’d set a heavy ubiquitous backpack next to the door. Gracie suddenly had a sneaky suspicion that all of Kin Hunter’s worldly goods were held in that backpack.
“Lady bless,” she said, “you’re homeless! That’s why you came inside my house.”
The young man’s face flushed and he hung his head even further. “I’m sorry, ma’am. I was looking for a place out of the rain. I knocked,” he said in his defense. “No one answered.”
Gracie shrugged, “I can see why you’d think it was abandoned. I get that all the time, along with parking tickets.” She patted the side of the RV. “Poor old Bessie should have been put out to pasture years ago but at least she provides a roof over my head.” She grimaced, “Sorry. That was insensitive of me.”
Kin shrugged, “Not your fault I don’t have a place to stay.”